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Security Alerts and Awareness

SECURITY AWARENESS

Remember to periodically check your computer for updates. - For windows users, open Internet Explorer run the Windows update selection listed under the tools drop down menu.

There has been an increase in the surrounding area (and other states) of unwanted text messages being sent to cellular phones. The text message will appear to be a warning message about an account having problems within a specific bank. (Regardless if you have an account there or not) This warning is an attempt to get the unsuspecting user to call a toll free number to provide the "automated system" with the appropriate account numbers in hopes of "reactivating" the account.

Financial institutions will not contact you by email or cellular phone text messaging about your account or ask you to enter your account information. Remember, the bank already has this information so why would a automated system be asking for it again? However, if you still feel that you need to verify the message, contact the financial institution directly.

Credit unions and other financial institutions are still facing a huge roll out of these automated fraud systems. Today Central Vermont Hospital Credit Union and First Harrison Bank of Indiana are the latest victims. Even with these new updates it is wise to note that these automated calls target EVERYONE even if you are not a customer of the financial institution being mentioned.

PHISHING

A rapid growing form of internet fraud is a practice called "phishing". This fraud can lead to financial loss and identity theft. Please take the time to read the characteristics of phishing and familiarize yourself with the safeguards that will reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of fraud. First National Bank of Bagley/Fosston, or ANY OTHER institution will never initiate a request for sensitive information from you via email or fax. (ie., Social Security Number, Personal ID, Password, PIN or account number). If you receive an email that requests this type of sensitive information, you should be suspicious of it and report by telephone to your local branch. We strongly suggest that you do not share your Personal ID, Password, PIN or account number with anyone, under any circumstances.

From the Bank Security Desk

Many times we get the question from customers, "I access my internet banking account from home and I have an antivirus program installed. I'm safe right?" Well, Tom Kell from Minnesota Bankers Association (MBA) answered that question in great detail and we would like to provide you with his insight to this question:

Short answer -- Probably not. There are so many facets to security in the average modern network that it could make your head spin, and a firewall is just the tip of the iceberg. Most people in this day and age have a firewall and know, at least vaguely, what it is for. The same can be said for antivirus software. The fact that those two terms have become such a part of everyday vernacular has led so many people to a false sense of security. Without a question, both products are critical aspects of network security, (or home computing) but are simply not enough to provide complete protection. If a firewall isn't enough, what else is there?

In addition to a firewall and good antivirus software, a secure network will employ some or all of the following: anti-spam software, anti-phishing software, malware protection, spyware protection, adware protection, secure routers (or wireless access points - WAP), complicated and changing passwords, Intrusion Detection or Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS), dual authentication, encrypted email, secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections; the list seems to go on forever. In the following paragraphs you'll find a list of some of the common security products discussed today. It is by no means a complete list, but any network that connects (even over dialup) to the internet and is responsible for safeguarding client (or personal) data should employ all of these at a minimum.

Firewall

A firewall is a device or software that is installed in between your network (or installed on a computer) managing your data connections from the rest of the world. The purpose of the firewall is to sort through all the Internet traffic that is trying to get inside your network and figure out what is legitimate and what is not.

Antivirus

This is a software product that is installed with the goal of preventing malicious code from being installed on your computers. It works by keeping a database of the signatures of all known viruses. It is typically installed in two places: one, on PC's and servers, and two, on (or with) the firewall.

Anti-Spam

We all know how irritating SPAM is, but many people do not know that it can be a significant security risk. SPAM is a favorite method of data thieves everywhere for getting a foot in the door of your network. Blocking SPAM before it ever gets to your PC is an important security measure.

Anti-phishing, Malware and Spyware Software

Often protection for all of these threats is combined into one product or a suite of products. Phishing is basically an attempt to con private information from people using fake websites, emails, etc.. Malware is unauthorized software that is designed to steal data, send SPAM, infect with viruses, or do any number of unpleasant things to computers. Spyware is similar, but focuses more on stealing data, keystrokes, etc.. Protection from these threats is provided in the form of a software program that is loaded on computers and firewalls. It works in much the same way as antivirus software.

If you cannot identify a product or service that covers each of the discussed areas, talk with your ISP or a consultant for more information. New threats emerge every single day, but with proper planning your risk can be reduced significantly.

(Note: If any third party technical support representative tells you to disable your firewall (other than for troubleshooting) ensure you turn it back on even if it does fix the problem. Turning off your firewall is never a permanent solution to an improperly configured internet connection. Please visit the website or call the software vendor directly if your firewall has been identified as the problem. It is also highly recommended using a third party firewall, (ie.. Symantec Internet Security, McAfee etc...).

 
 
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